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Exploring the Myth of The Duke Kid
There are all kinds of myths in college basketball and especially when it comes to Duke Basketball.
Whether it be that Duke gets all the calls, flops all the time or even that Mike Krzyzewski is really some evil bully, manipulating and bending the will of players and refs alike, there are some outrageous myths surrounding the Blue Devils basketball program.
One myth that has come about but is rooted in some truth, is the idea that there is such a thing as a Duke Kid. In the wake of the decision by the No. 2 recruit from the class of 2013, Jabari Parker, this concept has come up again. Many including some recruiting experts have used the term to describe the type of person and player Parker is.
Some don’t much care for that designation, but the realities are that sometimes myths evolve into realities. Krzyzewski since the days of Johnny Dawkins has been able to land some pretty top flight recruits.
When you look at the names it reads like an all-star team, and in the span of more than 30 years it is naturally impossible to find a clear-cut tangible connections that makes all of these talented players Duke Kids. But over that same time frame the idea of a Duke Kid has become part of the national vernacular.
But what makes any basketball player a Duke Kid. Duke is a unique university in that it maintains a high academic reputation while at the same time has one of the premier basketball programs in the country. It isn’t a luxury shared by the school’s football program which is getting ready to play in its first bowl game since 1994 or many other schools regardless of sport. It is hard to do in this day and age but Duke manages to accomplish the feat. But how do they do it?
In the same time frame that the football team has been woeful the Duke Basketball program has been to four Final Fours and won two national championships. They’ve done it by attracting some of the best talent, but they have also done it getting guys who fill roles, lead, and who represent the university and its standards very well.
Those guys are really the Duke Kids. You don’t have to be the most talented player to be a Duke Kid. Think Steve Wojciechowski, Chris Collins, Dave McClure, Brian Zoubek, Greg Koubek,Antonio Lang, or Jon Scheyer: These are all guys were good players but not necessarily great players and they were guys that have come to exemplify what makes a player a Duke Kid.
They are the guys that take charges, that give up starting roles, that switch positions, and give up the chance to be super stars in order for the team to be successful. They are unselfish, they don’t get in trouble, and they do the little things that help your basketball team win games.
Now that doesn’t mean that the super stars can’t be Duke Kids. Jason Williams, Grant Hill, Bobby Hurley, Johnny Dawkins were all Duke Kids, but that term doesn’t have to be limited to the team’s best players.
The talk that Jabari Parker is a Duke Kid is understandable. He is a very talented player but has been described by the recruiting experts and his coaches as a selfless player who does whatever he can to help his team win. He is a good student and you certainly can tell that by the final schools he had in his list.
Everything in fact that you hear about Parker is positive and it is hard not to see him fit in at Duke or really anywhere. And that is the true reason that the myth of the Duke Kid is only a myth.
Look at every single school in the country; look at every single basketball team and they have a kid that you would classify as that school’s kid. They do the same little things to help their team win, they do things the right way, and the represent their schools with class. That is not unique but it also isn’t celebrated nationally like it would be if it were at Duke or North Carolina, Indiana or Michigan State.
Every school has a Duke Kid its just that those kids aren’t all at Duke. The idea there is a kid that represents Duke in some way that can’t be replicated by others is a myth only in that it isn’t isolated to Duke. Those kids are everywhere and they are what makes a team and a program great.
With all that said, these are the types of recruits Kryzewski covets. They have those intangible qualities that you can’t teach and that is what he’s looking for. Occasionally, a Taylor King will end up at Duke, but those types don’t tend to stick around too long. Regardless, we as Duke fans should be thankful to Krzyzewski for not overlooking character when it comes to recruiting and the results speak for themselves.